An San calls herself ‘lucky’ to win three Olympic golds

The most successful archer at a single edition of the Olympics.

It’s an incredible epithet to have earned at the age of just 20 – but An San revealed in a recent interview that she thinks she was more than a little bit lucky to have crested all three podiums at Tokyo 2020.

Historically, Korean teams prepared more for the team events than the individual. It showed in Japan.

Paired with 17-year-old phenom Kim Je Deok, she rocketed to the first-ever Olympic title in the mixed team event, which was making its debut as a format at the Games.

She then took a second gold medal, two days later, when Korea’s women – An with Kang Chae Young and Jang Minhee – remained undefeated (since 1988) to secure a ninth consecutive Olympic team crown.

The dominance of archery‘s leading competitive nation faded over the next few days of the individual events. It wasn’t long before An San found herself as the only member of the six-strong Korean squad in Japan to make a final four.

It was there, where she faced Mackenzie Brown, that perhaps the most thrilling match of the entire Olympics was produced.

“At the end, we had to wait for two of Mackenzie’s arrows to be called by a judge,” the Olympic Champion explains. “Both of those arrows ended up as nines, which meant we were able to go to a shoot-off.”

Had one of Brown’s line-cutters been upgraded, An San would have been eliminated.

“Thanks to the result of that shoot-off, I made it into the finals,” she continues. “I think I was very lucky.”

An San delivered a tiebreak 10 to win the semi – and then a second consecutive tiebreak 10 to win the final over Elena Osipova and secure that historic third Olympic gold in Tokyo.

“I got a call from [Athens 2004 Olympic Champion] Park Sung-Hyun, who said that I did well and that she enjoyed watching the matches,” the Tokyo winner reveals. “[Athletes like her] are still way above where I am today.”

“But I think that maybe I’ve taken one step towards them.”

Watch the full interview with An San on World Archery’s YouTube channel and catch her in action at the 2021 Hyundai World Archery Championships, which starts with qualifying on Tuesday 21 September.